Sep 11, 2014 · 2 minutes

Here's a thought: maybe companies that want consumers to be talking about new products, including one that represents the company's first foray into a new market since 2010, shouldn't force an album that no-one asked for into those same consumer's existing phones and laptops.

If only someone had told Apple that before the company decided to add U2's newest album to everyone's iTunes library, a move which, assuming someone's devices are set to automatically sync with an iTunes account, forced the surprise album onto their iPhones without warning.

The New Yorker's music critic, Sasha Frere-Jones, has explained how the forced download of a forgettable album from an aging rock band actually hurt's the album's chance of catapulting U2 into the public's adoring eardrums after several years of ignoring the band's very existence. But the decision to push the album on consumers was also incredibly stupid on Apple's part, too.

The Internet is teeming with tutorials instructing frustrated iPhone owners -- which probably includes everyone whose experience with U2 is limited to changing the radio station whenever "Vertigo" came on back in the early aughts -- on how to remove the album from their devices. It's harder than it should be, and with automatic sync enabled, the removal isn't permanent.

Is showing people how Apple's decisions can make unilateral, hard-or-impossible-to-reverse changes to one of the most personal products a consumer can own really going to make people think fondly of the company's new offerings? There's a time and place for album giveaways; the announcement of the most exciting products Apple has unveiled in years isn't one of them.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the album release-slash-assault is that it follows Apple's efforts to give consumers more control over their devices. The newest version of its operating system allows people to replace the included software keyboard for the first time, makes it easier for applications to communicate with each other, and is more customizable than ever.

Changing this approach to help Apple's pet band -- Bono is said to have been a close friend of late founder Steve Jobs, and the company has long supported the singer's initiative to raise funds for HIV/AIDS research -- is just bizarre. People can accept the fact that their applications can't talk to each other; they're less likely to accept Apple's decision to force an album on them.

Unfortunately for Apple customers, it doesn't seem like the company is likely to learn a lesson from this blunder any time soon. Bono announced yesterday that U2's partnership with Apple is going to be a long one:

We’re collaborating with Apple on some cool stuff over the next couple of years, innovations that will transform the way music is listened to and viewed. We’ll keep you posted. If you like Songs of Innocence,  stay with us for Songs of Experience. It should be ready soon enough… although I know I’ve said that before…
You know what, Bono? I think Apple's customers would be just fine with you taking your time.

[photo by Matt McGee]